Sabbah Haji left a content writing job in Bangalore to open a school in the mountainous region of Doda in Jammu and Kashmir.
She took the step as there was no school there for two generations and the ratio boys and girls vis a vis education was poor.
Not only that, girls were not treated well in comparison to boys. After taking suggestions from her family, she started Haji Public School (HPS) in 2009 in Breswana, her ancestral village.
The school was started with two rooms in her father Saleem Haji’s home. But today, the school has its own building and near about 360 students are enrolled in it.
Sabbah raises funds through social media sites and invites volunteers to teach at her school that has seen no drop-outs in the past five years.
The volunteers, who live among the villagers, teach for a period of three months. They spend time with students and make their efforts to erase negative impressions of outsiders through their selfless efforts, hard work, and dedication.
The Haji Public School charges a nominal fee of Rs 100 even which many in the remote villages can’t afford to pay.
Also, focusing on making girls fearless, Sabbah says, “We push girls to be fearless, to try everything and compete with boys on an equal footing. There were some mental blocks to ‘allowing’ girls to participate in sports and other school activities.”
She adds that they also communicated with parents that girls are equal in every sense and they acknowledged that girls and boys were at par. “Parents now take much pride in sending their girls for sports,” she said.